Tag Archives: PS4

Bones and Boobs in gaming

Gaming has two sides, the hardware and the software side, or as some might call it the boobs and bones of gaming. We will look at the boobs later (desert always comes last), yet the bones are another matter. Forbes (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidthier/2019/06/04/there-are-tough-times-ahead-for-the-playstation-4-and-xbox-one/#3ca33e3562b4) gives us ‘There Are Tough Times Ahead For The PlayStation 4 And Xbox One‘, I do not really agree, and if so then mostly for the Xbox side, but the man makes a decent point and that is always a good reason to contemplate an article.

Bones

Even as he makes the case, I believe him to be wrong on certain matters. The numbers only partially support him. In case of Microsoft, they had a good run on the Xbox360 and they had decent sales even beyond the Xbox One launch. The reasons was that those with too small a budget decided to pick up a pre-owned console as those prices went down by a lot. Even today, people still buy Xbox 360 games, which is pretty astounding. The premise holds true for the PS3, from day one the PS4 was the child to have and for the next two years there will be plenty of people upgrading from PS4 to PS4 pro as Sony will be dumping the prices for that puppy. The market will slow down, but I believe that Sony has a good foundation to work with, Microsoft a little less so.

Nintendo remains the larger question in this. They are still ascending by leaps and bounds and even now we see in Forbes (three weeks ago actually) ‘The Nintendo Switch Just Topped The PS4’s Lifetime Sales In Japan‘, and that sounds overwhelming, yet the global numbers with PS4 on 97 million and Switch on 35 million gives the equal global sales towards the Xbox, but not the PlayStation. It has only been two years, whilst the other two have been around 7, the Nintendo Switch is still gaining momentum and it is doing so faster than last year. The fact that two of the most enticing (and addictive) games are free helps matters. With Fallout Shelter and Gems of war being great games to play on the Switch, we see a larger appreciation of the console. Nintendo upped the ante by handing all those with an online subscription (less than $40 a year), we see that they all get access to the old games from Donkey Kong, Metroid and Super Mario Bros, with dozens of additional games, all for free for those with the online account. It is one of the most enticing deals you will find in console land. As such the Switch goes on and on and on. That and the pre-owned market makes me oppose the view that Dave Thier has to some degree. the part that is also in debate is “I could even imagine PlayStation 4 sales recovering after the PlayStation 5 comes out and people realize they can still get good use of the old machine, which is likely to see a price-cut“, I believe that he setting is sound, yet I have seen Sony Marketing in action, as such they will cut prices on all options long before the sales recovery issue becomes a real issue for Sony. With exclusive titles like Last of Us 2 (2020), Death Stranding, Sekiro, Ghosts of Tsushima (2020), there is everything to look forward to and besides the fact that there are still plenty of people without a PS4 (or Xbox One for that matter), many of us (including me) still have not upgraded to the PS4pro (a budget issue), for many mainly because we have no 4K TV and that is the big factor (equally so for the Xbox One X), so as Sony starts bundling it’s console with a 4K TV, we might see another rush to upgrade. With several brands (including Sony) offering 55” or larger 4K TV’s for less than $1000 at present, the push for package deals will be very alive at the end of this year pushing the options of additional consoles right up to 2020 at that point the PS5 (and whatever Microsoft has) will become an optional issue. We have seen that many day one people held on to their previous console. I still have the PS3 and Xbox 360; I just never expected that the 360 would be higher regarded than the Xbox One (by me). These are all elements that play a part, as such I partially oppose the view Forbes gave us and I believe to be handing out the correct version (I have been proven correct often enough).

I agree with his slowing down part, but not to the degree he expects it, and the additional factor is not the slowing down, it might be: “New consoles pose question marks for the industry, and people are inclined to wait for answers before making large purchases“. I believe that to be the correct statement, but there was one other factor, it is 4K gaming and that is slow because the larger group of gamers does not have a 4K TV at present, as 4K will be the bees knees this Christmas, we will see a push to a much larger degree and Sony has an advantage over Sony here. It is how I got my PS3 and I never regretted that, especially as that TV was dirt cheap in those days, I expect Sony to do the same caper this year (and other brands as well), which is as I see it the larger stage for the difference between Dave Thier and me, as well as the large purchasing part, there is no ‘wait for answers‘ anymore on 4K TV, as such it optionally prevents a larger slowdown on the consoles and to be honest, you need to see Xbox One 4K with AC Origin to believe just how amazing 4K can be, it blew my socks off let me tell you that; and yes it was on a Xbox One X. Ubisoft & Microsoft actually got that part truly right.

Boobs

Yup, we got there, or as the Bloodhound Gang would state: ‘Hooray for Boobies‘ Yet the software is always a happy place for any gamer, whether it is Minecraft or Spiderman, seeing stuff in 4K is always reason to cheer. So when we look at value how angry do we need to get? When we are confronted with a AAA game (triple A game) we think it will be about quality, but it is not. It merely means that the game comes from a ‘mid-sized or major publisher, typically having higher development and marketing‘ and as I see it, it will be mostly about the marketing. So here comes Ubisoft who as far as I can tell is the only one who truly mangled and downgraded the IP of two franchises, namely Assassins Creed and optionally now Far Cry.

In comes a hard truth: ‘AAA game development has been identified as one environment where crunch time and other working pressures that negatively affect the employees are particularly evident‘, a given that is handed to us by Tweaktown and GamaSutra. In Tweaktown we see: ‘Ex-Ubisoft dev reveals the grim reality‘ with the quote: “it’s more like a mechanized assembly line than a dream job“, this might be a true stage, yet in all this it is not the creators, it is its board of directors as well as their marketing department. Like several software makers, setting a realistic goal is not something either department is any good at; the horrendous Far Cry 5 is clearly evidence of that. I completely disagree with the ratings that IGN (89%) and the 81% that Metacritic gave, I fall in line towards Digital Trends and their 60%. There should be a stage that games like that can no longer be called AAA games when its rating to become this below average. I even have some reservations on the games I traded in for this new version (at $23). Far Cry 5 infuriates me; they really had to do a better job. Not the graphics guys (gals included), graphically Montana is so overwhelmingly amazing that I would be willing to move to Hope County with the next available flight (if there is a decent job there). The story is something I leave in the middle. It is over the top, but there is a side that is actually enticing and you haven’t felt hatred until you are getting a tattoo on your chest by John Seed, the characters (even the over the top ones) are impressive. It is the game play itself that got to me in a massive way. To name just a few:

  1. Planes that touch a tree top dead in their track and in some cases end up on the ground in perfect working order without a scratch.
  2. Like the screaming eagles in Far Cry Primal (one every other minute) the stage comes when planes are there and they are there all the time, I have shot down enough to make a nation go bankrupt, but not for the Seed family, they merely seed more planes (or is that conceive?) And it is not merely me; I found hundreds of posts of gamers irritated by that, it seems that some people at Ubisoft are unwilling to learn.
  3. Spawn, not the Todd McFarlane hero, but the spawning of opponents. In a bunker scene (trying to avoid spoilers), the troops started spawning in front of me, which is a big no-no! This all indicates that the game was either never clearly tested, or the test results were ignored, either way that is an easy 20% degrading on any 89% score, so we are already on 69%. The fact that these issues were never addressed one year down the road implies additional failings on the Ubisoft front.
  4. Ballistics anyone? I love my sniper rifles, it gives me an edge and even in a bunker, the rifle can be a huge advantage, even if you only have 35 bullets to work with (unless you find more ammo). So when that rifle suddenly does not kill with a head shot, but only knock of the helmet, I am speechless. You see, anyone who knows their weapons would know that a helmet is protecting in nature, but the impact of a .50 that travels at 3,029 feet/second giving an impact of 13,350 ft-lbf (foot pound force) does not merely take off the helmet, it rips of the entire head. Now I get and accept that Ubisoft is not giving us that image, but to not see a headshot as an immediate kill is just stupid and silly. That should be 35 instant kills, even in the chest the power alone will crush the chest to death, and no Kevlar thickness in the world will stop that.
  5. The enemy avalanche. I get that throughout the game, it becomes more and more taxing, but the boss fights with wave after wave, where topless people keep running after 5-7 shots is just silly. And it is not 2-3 we get thrown into a stage of dozens and Ubisoft is unable to learn that wave after wave gets to be tedious and actually does not make a game better. Now there is an arcade more and I am not touching it, arcade is arcade and there the rules tend to be slightly different, which is fair enough. Yet in the normal game, Ubisoft makes the same mistakes we saw in Far Cry Primal and Far Cry 4. What was Far Cry 3 has become less and less (as I personally see it).

There is a lot Ubisoft got right too and the extra’s (like the Vaas outfit) and particularly the outfits you get when you have another Ubisoft game is cool, an immediate reward for those who have other Ubisoft games like the Rainbow six outfit is actually really cool to see (I did not have the game so it did not unlock for me), but the effort towards its gamers must be recognised. The bubbleheads (for in the car) if you have certain games is also cool and gives a little extra a fact that has always mattered to gamers.

Tweak town gives a lot more, but when I read: “When people realize they’re just one very replaceable person on a massive production chain, you can imagine it impacts their motivation“, I see it and it might impact, but that is an HR problem, not on my watch here, it is an element I care not for at present. There is also: “How do you get the right message to the right people? You can’t communicate everything to everyone, there’s just too much information. There are hundreds of decisions being taken every week. Inevitably, at some point, someone who should have been consulted before making a decision will be forgotten. This creates frustration over time” that is an issue, it is management that is either not there, not properly ready or even worse, it is ignorant. That also gives light to the connection of testing, an issue that Ubisoft has had for at least a decade. The experience that even now in Far cry 5, the event of looting a corpse and switching the weapon they dropped are nearly always overlapping, making a quick grab for ammo impossible and at times even disastrous. An issue not fixed since Far Cry 3. The article (at https://www.tweaktown.com/news/49863/ex-ubisoft-dev-reveals-grim-reality-aaa-games-development/index.html) had a few more items, but it was less important for me in this case. Gamasutra (at https://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/282922/AAA_game_dev_lifestyle_is_unwinnable_says_veteran_game_designer_Amy_Hennig.php) gives a few more items, issues like: “There are people who never go home and see their families. They have children who are growing up without seeing them” get a different rating, it is either a lack of time management, or slave labour, one is a choice the other is criminal; you tell me which is which. Yes, I trivialise the issue here, but at some stage you need to recharge and if you decide not to do that, you burn out. It is the quote: “It’s pressure that rolls downhill and piles onto those behind the industry’s biggest releases, forcing them to go above and beyond to meet rapidly approaching deadlines” that hits pay dirt, they either haven’t learned to neuter their marketing department, or the board members have forgotten what realistic time frames are. Either way it tends to stop proper game testing and that is how we get a screwed up product and we have seen that from AC Unity onwards, Ubisoft has had way too many events like that. As such as we see the quote referring to ‘over-expectant publishers‘, the view we see matches mine pretty much flawless. If you cannot control your marketeers with their hype creation, you fall flat and you get the pressures that should have been avoided in the first place. The evidence is there too, for example Project red with Witcher 3 as well as Cyberpunk 2077. There no one is fussed about the 2020 release, we all know that they broke the mould with Witcher 3 and we want to see that again, we the gamers are willing to wait for excellence, mainly because it has become such a rare thing. A 93% rating comes at a price. It is the oldest stage of sales.

You can have something cheap, something fast and something good, but you can only chose two of the three elements, so the product ends up arriving slow, becoming a bad product or an expensive one, which of those three can you live with the best? Of those three the late arrival is the best (my personal view), but as far as Ubisoft goes, they got that choice wrong more than once, because they were unwilling to delay the release late, costing them points all over the place. It is me not liking Odyssey that requires me to quote Samuel Axon who wrote a massive story on ArsTechnica. He ends with: “Odyssey was not a perfect game. But it was the perfect game to win back this series superfan. It’s so good, I want to go back and replay older games in the series—even some of the bad ones—just to examine and appreciate the evolution“, I get his vision yet it is not my view on the game and that is fine. Ubisoft does not need to appease me, it needs to protect its IP and there we might not see eye to eye on the matter. This is fine, I am merely one view and that too needs to be taken into account, Samuel clearly had another view on the take and I accept it because the article (at https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2019/03/i-played-11-assassins-creed-games-in-11-years-and-odyssey-made-them-all-worth-it) is an absolute must for any Assassins Creed fan.

When I look back, no matter how much we like to stare at the boobies, when they are not the ones (or shape, or size) you hoped to see, the interest fades really fast (unless you are a hungry baby) and that is the core for Ubisoft, the absolute essential part was proper testing and fixing (optionally with a day one patch) is something they seemingly have not been steered towards for too long and it shows. As I see it, they efficiently massacred two IP’s at present; the question becomes what will happen with Watchdogs 3? When we accept (I do) that the second was way better than the first, I fear for the third, because they need to get it right. I only got Far Cry 5 well over a year later when it was sold at a mere 17% of the full price gives rise to what we are willing to pay. When you consider that this was a game with a budget close to $100 million and a rising amount of gamers will no longer consider it at full price, and even as it made $310 million, how much money did Ubisoft in the end miss out on? Going home with $200 more is still good, but what could they have gotten? I wonder if they learn this lesson too late, perhaps it is me and perhaps I expect too much from the gamers of today. I merely chase excellence in gaming, and a game that is created substandard will not ever give a feeling of excellence, which is sad on many levels, especially when someone forked out an 9 figure number.

Just consider that GTA5 made $6 billion so far, Red Dead Redemption had a $725 million opening weekend, and that list goes on, all games that have a 90% score of better. It shows when we see that (according to VGChartz) Far Cry 5 seemingly sold less than 4 million copies, God of war far beyond 11 million, and that is also set toUbisoft being on three systems, whilst God of War was on only one system. I see it as the main difference between a 70% game and a 95% game. A difference of 250% or better in sold copies. I reckon that Ubisoft needs to focus on quality a lot more than they are currently doing and that view is shared by global player on an increasing larger scale endangering Ubisoft initial revenue more and more.

 

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Lifting the veil

Keith Stuart (the Guardian) gave the first reliable light less than 8 hours ago when he treats us to: ‘PlayStation 5: Sony gives the first details of its next generation console‘. We see a lot of digital techno babble (for the non-technical readers), what is important in first light is a positive and a negative. The positive is seen with “a custom graphics processor based on the forthcoming AMD Navi family, which will be capable of real-time ray tracing“, implying that the new PS5 is only inches behind today’s top graphics cards and on part what the PC could maximise in 2020, that is indeed a graphical leap that has not been seen before. Then we see “an eight-core CPU based on the third generation of AMD’s Ryzen processors“. This is good in a number of ways but let’s not blindly focus on the 8 cores. In the end gaming is about good games. What does seem to be implied is that Ubisoft has a unique option at present, it could get ahead of the crowd with a massive leap if they do their homework and if they focus on the result and not listen to whatever idiot is the voice of the shareholders and/or marketing, because that will end them right quick.

They have the option for a truly new Watchdog and optionally a few more of their franchises, but only if they focus, the next AAA rated at 65% could end them if they lose focus; the fans have become weary of Ubisoft and what they market and subsequently not produce. A similar stage is there for Bethesda, even as they have a lot more credibility. They have the products, but they need to have a much better QA team. They will not survive a second Fallout 76 that much is showing to be the gospel of gaming. When we see the specs of the PS5 we cannot even imagine what FromSoftware will be able to pull off, but we cannot wait to see. There are more players, especially with the implied God of War 5, even if they merely get an equal to god of War 4, people will sleep in front of gaming shops to get the game at first light, and so far we know that these makers always surpassed the previous versions, so we cannot wait.

Yet this gets us to the other place, the one negative one. You see, we might hype behind “a solid state drive“, yet the ugly truth is that space is expensive in solid state mode. Even as the current price of $975 for a 4TB drive is a lot and that price will be 30% down in 2020, the truth remains that 2TB will not cut it and we do hope that Sony is not stupid enough to follow the short-sighted path that Microsoft is on, they are now merely console number three and optionally before 2021 a number 4 out of 5. We get that we might start at 1-2TB, yet as long as the space is there to upgrade to 4TB the fans will be OK with it, selling that item short is the most dangerous path one could be on and 3mm makes all the difference. Even as Microsoft Marketing is trying to launch hypes around Xbox Two, they have already lost the faith of so many gamers that the stage now is set to them trying to repair damage in the first year of console release; this is totally difference form both Nintendo and Sony who are now steaming ahead at full throttle. Even as we get the Sci-Fi versions of what the Xbox Two might be, too many people are no longer willing to trust Microsoft at present and that is hurting them at the starting bell for a lot more than they are willing to admit to. I only they had actually listened to the gamers, we are not willing to trust them with their words: ‘We listened to gamer and this is what we came up with‘, they will bully always online, they will bully their Microsoft Azure needs. This is the consequence of doing what shareholders tell you and disregard the customer, it is a failed model and I have seen the fallout of that for well over two decades in the field.

So whilst others need to worry about the market share they lose against Nintendo and Google Stadia (optionally against Apple too), Sony has decided on the path that gamers desire and with one optional flaw they are on track to surpass themselves. It gets to be even larger if initial social media plans come to fruition, yet there is no evidence that this is in any way happening. what is interesting is that the winning path of Sony is pushed to a much higher level whilst Microsoft is still clinging to “Securely store player data, dynamically scale your gaming experiences to more than 50 regions, and save money as your game grows with Azure” and even as some give us: “Google may have stolen the show at this year’s Game Developer Conference with its Stadia cloud gaming reveal, but Microsoft is hard at work on its own service, xCloud, that it’s already testing now. At a GDC developer session yesterday, Microsoft representatives from the xCloud team gave us a little more detail into how games designed for Xbox consoles will translate over to mobile devices, where players might be used to either a Bluetooth controller or on-screen touch controls“, some need to see a reality, not only are they outgunned against Google (Stadia), the fact that the fact that I do not accept any Xbox game to be played on a mere 6” mobile, we now see that the entire concept of ‘gaming’ is seemingly slightly alien to Microsoft. This is all about stored player data; this is about data and facilitating for the capture of it.

Do you really think that I could ever enjoy Forza Horizons IV on a 6″ screen? That game is the reason why people buy a 75″ 4K TV in the first place. So not only is Microsoft failing its gamers, their own marketing department is failing both. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of games that play nicely on a Mobile, some games can be played at any place and screen (Fallout Shelter, Gems of War), but the premise to make it all go to a mobile display is almost insulting to the people who went all out and created Forza Horizons IV for the big 4K screens.

This matters!

This matters as it shows the people that both Sony and Nintendo have been on the right track all along, the Nintendo sales figures show that, the head start of Sony shows it and now the top two will vie for their audience and even as Sony is ahead, it cannot relax one moment, Nintendo is too good at what they do and it is what the gamers want, Sony knows that too.

for now we see the PS5 for what it is, an optional beauty to replace our PS4 with, the fact that it is still a year away (optionally 17 months) is not something we are sorry about. The PS4 gives loads of entertainment to all its users and is highly likely to do so until the PS4 hands over the baton to the PS5, that is how it works and even then the PS4 will keep gamers happy for the longest of times, just like the Nintendo GameCube did whilst people were buying the Nintendo Wii in force. For that too is gaming, it is like our favourite pair of shoes or wallet, we hang onto it a little longer than we should, we grew attached to the device that brought so much joy, something Nintendo accepted and Sony forgot just a little too easy.

 

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A BAFTA for controllers

Yes, another event is taking place; this time it will be the BAFTA for games that is up for some to grab. The competition has been fierce in the past; I actually did not choose God of War in the Games Awards 2018. I would have given it to Forza Horizons 4, who had blown me away on several fields, even as there was no dispute, it was close, really really close. So as we see the Artistic Achievement mask, God of War wins, not by much as the competition was fierce.

With Audio achievement, God of War wins, it will also win the Music; the soundtrack is overwhelming and amazing. They also have the benefit that AC Origins and Arkham Knight are not on that list; these three are the best soundtracks gaming has ever produced. Bear McCreary, a musician who already earned his stripes with Battlestar Galactica (and several others) is now the one favourite for that mask, as I personally see it.

Yet best game is interesting, with Forza Horizons missing, only God of War remains; in my personal view the others will not make it a nose length fight. Yet all is not lost for Microsoft, with the British game, we see a win that clearly goes to Forza, racing through Britain is just too much fun and too amazing.

I have to pass on debut game; too many are unknown to me, making my voice not a fair one. As Evolving Game, Elite is the one for me. I have skin in the game there, having loved the game since its initial release on the BBC Micro B and my own copy on the CBM 64 (I did not have the BBC Micro B myself). I still remember that day as I had to take a 90 minute train trip to get to the one store in 1985 that had it. When it comes to Family, my view is skewed. I do not think that Pokémon is a family game, it is family friendly, that is true, but true family game implies engagement by all and there I merely see Super Mario Party as the one option, perhaps it is most likely that my view of the Family category is wrong, but perhaps it should not have been given a category that comes across as dubious in its interpretation. As for Game beyond Entertainment, 4 are unknown to me, so I skip that category. The same would apply to Game Design was it not to the fact that God of War is sublime in all ways, so I reckon they will get it. Yet, I am happy to be proven wrong due to a game I had not seen. The same can be said for Game Innovation, yet when it comes to innovation the entire idea of creativity and cardboard to be added to a console and gaming is just so whack that it should win. I never saw the appeal, yet the appeal to see kids fold a piano and then play it making the switch play music is just slightly too strong on the side of magic beating that horse named science. Only Nintendo could ever be that one player who does not know what a box is, and therefore not being hindered by one.

I skip several but then halt at Original Property, which only as it ends up being slightly flawed Subnautica wins. I have been testing it since its early release and it is by far the most immersive (submersive too) and innovative (as well as original) survival game. The fact that it is almost all on water makes it weird, strange and it never stops being weird and challenging.

For me personally the Performer mask should be Christopher Judge as Kratos in God of War his performance of Kratos is iconic, yet the voices: Danielle Bisutti as Freya, Jeremy Davies as The Stranger and Sunny Suljic as Atreus are all worthy nominees. I believe that the voice of Kassandra failed in AC Odyssey, not due to the actress though, which is a shame for her, because all nominees clearly worked their asses off to get the top achievements in the games, this is one part where the software makers can intervene and slightly screw it up, yet in God of War the work on any level remained 5 out of 5 all over the board giving 4 nominees a clear advantage.

As for EE mobile game of the year, there is no way of telling. An audience will vote personal and emotional giving Pokémon go the home field advantage, but in the end it will be anyone’s guess and Fortnite is on that list too, so I wonder if that voice will be impacted by the PC and console gamers, I actually do not know. I am not surprised that I did not elect Red Dead Redemption 2. I was never into Westerns. I do acknowledge that everyone tells me that it is the best single player experience ever, but so was God of War, so was Forza Horizons 4 (if you are a racer). You see, some might hide behind the marketing of ‘the most powerful console in the world‘, yet when the awe is not in the hardware, but in the excellence of game design like Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. We see it when the least powerful console overwhelms you with graphics, music and gaming experience. When the noise of ‘jing jing’ when you switch on a console does not do it, but your heart flutters when you hear the ‘Yahoo!’ of Mario grabbing another Power moon and your mind races where more can be found. When you get that part, then you also understand why Microsoft ends up having their most powerful console in the world in the number three position of consoles. And it gets to be worse for them soon enough (optionally). When the people at Google realise what makes gamers tick, they might end up being a mere number 4 contending party in 2021. It is the adaptation of a French expression; I think it came from the French revolution. The adapted expression is: ‘Change is valuable it turns the leaders into underdogs’; it is a lesson that Microsoft will just have to learn the hard way. Their unwillingness to listen to gamers is coming at a very steep price and it will look optionally a lot more expensive soon enough.

How does that matter?

It matters as we see the gamers move to other consoles, at times keeping the old console around, but the funds (if they have any) will go towards the games that they are drawn too, Microsoft seemingly forgot about that. They pushed for backwards compatibility so that could ride on the coattails of the Xbox 360 a little while longer, but that too will lose steam and the game awards as well as the gaming Bafta gives us where the need for new games was at, and in that respect God of War truly delivered, the fact that a Sony Exclusive game is a nominee in most categories also gives us a tale of where Microsoft dropped the ball (yet again), and now Google Stadia is just around the corner biting into the multi gamer and streaming services fruit that Microsoft thought they had secured for themselves. I admit that they went about it the right way and anyone into gaming and online not getting a Game Pass is pretty much insane, yet that horse has other jockey’s and Google as the late arrival is about to walk into the ring.

We will be ready with Irish jokes as the awards will be presented by Dara O’Briain on April 4th, so we should hope that Milton Jones walks in to have a bit of a go at Dara on stage, but that is just wishful thinking.

I like game awards as it shows to some extend what games achieved and who were the ones teaching us what gaming can be about. We tend to look at the large games, the large players, yet in that world we might not have noticed Minecraft, a labour of love that became an addiction for millions, for many it still is. In this day and age it seems impossible, but who has played Subnautica? When you look will you suddenly realise that you missed out on something? That is actually the best art of the show, until one award night I had never heard of Threes! That can happen to us all, and for those seeing that one game that makes you buy a console, that is the moment you open another door to multiple worlds.

Game awards also give rise to new directions, at present more often than not instigated by small indie developers, but pushes like that can be game changers. Even as I contemplated an entirely new direction for changing difficulty levels in a game like Watchdogs 3, I suddenly considered that this path had never been considered ever before (optionally a slight exaggeration), and it could have an educational impact as well. The added value goes towards the replayability that a game has, changing the value of a game and the bank for your buck. Now, we can all agree that not everyone might like it that was and that path is not for every franchise; yet the realisation that no one has ever taken it into that direction is also food for thought, especially when you realise how many games have been published and I have been involved with and around gaming since Mirrorsoft.

And in finality, this is the first year that where it is my feeling that the Gaming awards had a better impact and was appreciated better and more than the academy awards, implying that the ascending star for gaming will continue for some time to come.

 

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The impact of insanity

This is not going to be a nice article, it will not be positive and it will not be one you might like to read. It is not on how Nintendo is growing evermore, how people can remain happy playing Mario Kart. We heard all the negativity in the past, and now (4 days ago) we get: ‘Nintendo’s Bold Switch Sales Target Could Be Achievable After All‘, the news that I predicted over a year ago, which did not become a reality, I predicted that the Microsoft Xbox One life time sales would be surpassed by Nintendo by an expected end of January 2019 was not met. It seems that I am off by 8 weeks. So, under two years the total lifetime’s sales mark, the mark that took Microsoft with their most powerful console in the world got slammed, crushed and obliterated by Nintendo in two years. Some say it is insane, I merely see it as the opposition of the need for actual fun that will trump looking cool every single time. It goes further when we realise that 15 of the 20 highest selling games in Japan are all Nintendo Switch games. The game is changing and even Sony is worried for the first time ever. Now, we know that for the life cycle of Sony, the PS4 will remain to be in first place, but the fact that Sony is worried is unheard of. It matters because after the PS4, there will be a PS5 and Sony needs to up the game by a decent amount. Not essentially in hardware, they need to get their game up in software. An issue they never had before, not since the very first PlayStation. It is all set to the stage of IP and Sony knows that this will be a hard time for all things Sony. If that was not enough, the fact that Smash Bros surpassed 5 million copies in global sales in one week is also a milestone that Nintendo loves, yet never expected to this degree, fun is everything, it is a life marker for all of us and it is out in the open.

In opposition we need to look where fun is not found, where fun does not make it. It is the stage of Yemen, when in Jordan the talks are breaking down regarding the Yemeni conflict. With the quote: “Negotiations between the Yemeni government and Houthi rebel representatives broke down in Jordan’s capital, Amman, with the Yemeni government accusing the Houthis of providing a fake list of prisoners“, it might be true, it might not. It is dependent on the right data, the right intelligence. So with: ‘Yemen’s warring sides fail to reach agreement on prisoner swap‘ (at https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/01/yemens-war-agreement-reached-prisoner-swap-deal-jordan-190119164117438.html) we see the escalation returning. The matter becomes increasingly worse when we consider the SF Chronicle (at https://www.sfchronicle.com/world/article/Fuel-from-Iran-used-to-finance-rebels-in-Yemen-13547149.php). Here we see nothing new. The headline: ‘Fuel from Iran used to finance rebels in Yemen, UN panel finds‘. We knew for the longest time that Iran had been financing and supporting the mess in Yemen, many European papers stayed out of it all as there is an important issue revolving the Iranian Nuclear deal, a joke on paper and not worth the paper it was printed on, which was my personal opinion. So I gave my support to the side of Saudi Arabia in all this for several reasons, the fact that Iran was guilty of too many transgressions and no one was willing to openly step up to the mark. Today I am changing that game by adding my own insanity. Even as the UN recognises certain steps, the inaction of too many is appalling and I am making a massive dangerous alteration, because I can no longer sit on the sides. As we were introduced to: “The latest report said a small number of companies inside and outside Yemen operated as front companies using false documentation. The panel said it found that the fuel was loaded from Iranian ports and “the revenue from the sale of this fuel was used to finance the Houthi war effort.”” It is now my turn to wake up the others.

I made a second mention in ‘The Elephant Room‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/10/23/the-elephant-room/) where I devised a method to take the Iranian navy out of the equation and it might optionally work on the USS Zumwalt as well (that ship to too ugly and expensive to be allowed to exist). The idea came from a famous Dutch bank robber named Aage M (70’s). He robbed banks in the most novel way with a thermionic lance. He went straight through the concrete (next to the door) and looted the place. I altered the device concept (see image). Now it should work on vessels too. One ring of Magnesium, the flotation device is pure oxygen, pushing the Magnesium ring against the hull, when ignite, the heat will keep the flame going on under water (at 2200C mind you), the flotation device will push against the bottom of the boat melting the hull in that location, making a rather large hole, when the end is reached the C4 ring explodes and totally screws the inner hull six degrees from Sunday. The nice part is that the device would require no more than an estimated $100K-$150K. At that point the hole will totally change the floating principle of that much steel (with less displaced water).

If my idea was correct, the Iranians could lose their Sahand, Moje and Alvand class frigates. In addition, when properly timed, it could in addition take Dryabany base Mahshahr out of the equation. It would not defeat Iran, I have no delusions in that regard, but when Iran suddenly has such a bitter pill to swallow, the idea that one civilian achieved that, if successful it would force them to become a lot more civil. Their funding of Hezbollah and the funding of the Houthi would hopefully end forever, especially when their own turf is no longer safe. The idea is not perfect, I have a few parts in the deployment device (stealth based) that are not adding up, but the waters there work in my advantage, which is nice but not good enough. You see, until you are willing to commit, it is merely a thought, a flight full and fantasy founded one, yet not realistic.

If a snow globe gave me the idea for the meltdown of a (Iranian) nuclear reactor (as well as both the Wasp and Piranha valves), what could the mind perceive at the sight of a dough mixer?

IP is not merely about applied innovation, it is a path to create something new and that was exactly what I did, even as my mind feels more comfortable designing stories and games, a sidestep to hardware is never far away, I was able to prove that a few times over. So as the US Navy is given: “American taxpayers have bought a fleet of three warships—at a cost of $8 billion each!—that are still looking for a mission. Not only that: the ships are missing their key weapon, and Congress—which rarely rebukes the Navy—recently ordered the service to strike the two that have been delivered to the fleet from its roster of combat-ready ships“, I had the opposing idea at no more than $150K. How is that for warfare extremes?

When we are shown “The vessels represent a case study of a program run without adult leadership. Its contractors and admirals were blinded by ambition that had little to do with providing the fleet with enough hulls to patrol the world’s oceans, but everything to do with maritime hubris that didn’t pan out. “They just started putting all sorts of requirements on the ship without really understanding the cost implications,”“, a military apparatus that has no concept of reality and the US taxpayer is down 24 billion with nothing to show for it, my idea would have costed them $6 million, and now I will add it to the world of public Domain for null cost. I still have a few 5G implementation ideas to go through, so I am not shy if idea’s. Those ideas include a new keyboard. Even as we see all those fancy new keyboards, they are all surrounding the same tiring idea, they call them novel but they are anything from novel. I got the idea when I remembered the time when we were not devoted to our remote control. I suddenly thought back to my old 1988 colour TV and it gave me an idea of a very different keyboard, a keyboard where it is about the key itself and that gave me a new implementation of what could be truly a new keyboard, one that might look odd and many might not like it but at least it is in a direction that we have not been in ever, when did you last see a device that did that?

The line between genius and insanity is a lot thinner and a lot more blurry than most people are comfortable with considering. This does include the novel idea that I am not a genius, I am merely a closet case insane person, yet my willingness to measure myself against other settings slightly removes that option form the table. I could also put the entire Trump administration against myself as I see that they are willing to push hundreds of thousands of people into hunger and destitute merely to get a wall build, one that has no hope of actually being a success mind you, but there you have it.

In addition, in my view I am not stating that the Saudi involvement here is all innocence; the alleged airstrike a mere hour ago would be ample proof of that. From my point of view, the delaying tactics from the Houthi forces have now met with the end of patience and the Saudi’s have had enough. Can we judge? I have to say, not at present but a lot will depend on how the entire mess is presented soon enough and will the media give us an honest non biased brief? I truly do not know, I hope we will know tomorrow. Yet, that is not the end of it all.

You see, we have not seen the levels in America regarding polarisation since before the McCarthy Administration and it is having a global impact (and that is before the Chinese elements are added to the equation). I personally see it as a larger political failure in America. The entire ‘Russian interference’ part has been dragged out for the longest time, yet what is there?

When we accept Wired (a reliable source) we get: “The Mueller indictment permanently demolishes the idea that the scale of the Russian campaign was not significant enough to have any impact on the American public. We are no longer talking about approximately $100,000 (paid in rubles, no less) of advertising grudgingly disclosed by Facebook, but tens of millions of dollars spent over several years to build a broad, sophisticated system that can influence American opinion“, I do not doubt this, branding, marketing and awareness programs all work in a similar matter. Most do not invest that much, but the larger players (Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Huawei, Apple and Google) have all used similar methods to give rise to what they offer and sell. So why would that be different for an election? A place of position is just that, a place of position and that place also gives rise to other profits when properly used. We see that in Europe as talks prolong with Iran and Turkey to get a standing, they are at that point in a place of power and removing them from such a place is what would enable progress. So that is where we see the tactics evolve, but in America there seems to be no evolving tactics at all, it is all emotions and media, hoping to get a resolution. So when we see (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/model-apologizes-in-claim-of-russia-election-interference/2019/01/19/f919f22c-1c08-11e9-b8e6-567190c2fd08_story.html), the stage of ‘Model in Russian court apologizes for US election claim‘, where we see: “A Belarusian model and self-styled sex instructor who last year claimed to have evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election said Saturday that she apologizes to a Russian tycoon for the claim and won’t say more about the matter“.

This leads us to: ‘A Russian Sex Instructor makes the headlines in the Washington Post? Are you fucking kidding me?‘ In this we get the stage where Anastasia Vashukevich (aka Lady Sex Education) and Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska (Mr Billionaire) and also CEO of Basic Element, he is worth well over 4 billion dollars and they are both getting way more visibility. Now, with Oleg we get that someone this rich and successful would be taking the headlines in all this, yet the American way of just pasting any claim without proper vetting of facts is now a much larger issue, especially as the vetting of facts and the exposure of certain players (like Iran, Turkey and Hezbollah) was been faltering in many ways. So even as we find a little giggle value in the accusation and there might be a case where Oleg has at least the funds and means to influence an election, yet with the US in such an economic state, it might be just a lot more beneficial to invest a mere 2% and grow his businesses in Europe and over the Middle East, that is the common sense thing to do.

You see, that is where we need to look, especially as the perceived escalations all over the Middle East continues. We can laugh and state that Americans are all taking ‘crazy pills’ but that is not the whole truth, that path only works with massive levels of facilitation and that is where the mystery starts. One source gives us an uncomfortable re-enactment. WE are given: “Yesterday’s Pre-WW II Germany is Today’s U.S.A. I remember as a child sitting in history class and watching the videos of the horrors of Nazi Germany. All of the kids asked the same question “how could the people let this happen?” We had both a school system and parents who were adamant about ensuring that we were aware of what occurred, how so many ignored the problems, and then later how so many supported what became the Nazi regime. All of what happened then is the same that is happening now. Fascism has familiar characteristics and the only difference is we have more technology to deliver them today. The desperate and the stupid are easily brainwashed and since they lack critical thinking, they will believe anything.

I believe that this is not the whole truth. I believe that there is a level above the middle level and below the higher echelons that is desperately depending on the current financial status quo to continue, with Wall Street calling the shots. That time is over and many are afraid, we can see the elements in play. Those in Europe connected to the ECB, praying that some Turkey deal is possible, hoping that some Iranian Nuclear deal will turn the economy around. It is too late for that, but they will not listen to common sense. The USS Zumwalt is only one of several examples where there is orchestration, not one, but a dozen orchestras all playing at the same time, all implying chaos, but it is not that simple. Those with blinders, only seeing and hearing one small part hears that one orchestra, the rest think it is merely noise, merely awareness of whatever comes next, but there is no next, there is no continuation, minus 20 trillion should be evidence of that, yet the people will not listen. That same stage is seen in Yemen. Even when we accept a part of it, the part that there are still allegedly 600,000 mines out there, when we accept only 50% of that number. When we do the math and we realise that the conflict started 4 years ago, we need to realise that it required 200 mines a day to be placed, 200 mines a day, every day. How many resources does that take? Now consider that Yemen never ever had this amount of resources (especially the mines), now we get to that part that matters: ‘Just how deeply was Iran involved from the very start?

That is the important part, because for 4 years most nations did NOTHING! And that is where we see the insanity of inaction, and let’s not forget, I am only taking on 50% of that claim, at the true expected numbers, this stage is a nightmare and we all let it happen. Yemen will be a death zone for many years to come, the impact of mines will continue for many years and whatever progress we think we make there is seemingly fiction, so as I decided to add to the fiction by placing the hardship on the transgressor Iran, I feel that I am doing the right thing. At least I am doing something, which is more than we can state from the media and their inaction.

The impact of insanity is doing nothing and hoping it will resolve itself, that stage was never a real one and that has been proven since long before WW1 was going to be a reality. The impact of insanity is a real one and it is a highly physical impact as well, we remain in denial, we remain in denial in a time where denial is not merely unrealistic, it is a choice where we merely harm ourselves in the short term as well, how is that healthy?

 

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Battle of the giants

The Guardian has released a list of the best games of the year. As a Sony lover, I expected to see god of War and it is there, we also see Microsoft’s Forza Horizon 4, which ought to be there too. I was never a racing fan and still that game blew me away, so there!

We also see games that never were my fancy; Monster Hunter World is not a game I tried as I was disappointed with the grinding that the 3DS version gave. I admit that the graphics on the new consoles looked amazing, yet i felt no need to try. Ni No Kuni 2 is not a surprise and the absence of Bethesda is no surprise. I am quite frankly amazed on how many times Bethesda dropped the ball in this quarter alone. I have no idea what got them hit with the stupid stick this many times. Red Dead Redemption 2 is there too and my only surprise is the remastered Shadow of the Colossus. I actually did not expect it to show up, as I saw Dark Souls Remastered. If we look at those two, they deserve to be there, and even as it hits the mark, they do have the benefit of having a long time to be the original, when we look today, it is much harder to find an original game, as such these two might be regarded as having an unfair advantage.

I also missed titles that should have been there. first there is Spiderman, it is not merely the best Spiderman ever made, it is graphically perfect, it has the clear feel of a Peter Parker adventure and it is true to a Marvel world, as such I expected it to be there, right next to God of war, two games that made Sony to be the Huge success it became in 2018. The Xbox One misses out due to exclusivity, and I am in conflict with myself over Assassin’s Creed Odyssey not being picked, there are reasons it should be there and optional reasons for it not making the cut, yet I feel the balance scale is still on the side of it being there. I believe that in this case the DLC is added reason for it making the grade this time around as well (the cultural DLC of life in Egypt last year was a stroke of genius, you walk through it seeing just how much as a gamer you missed out on, making the replay 150% more satisfying). As a PlayStation lover (an important distinction), I need to side with Keza MacDonald on this one. Her statement: “This game is a beautiful experience. As driving games go, it’s the best I’ve ever played“, in the end, God of War blew me away as well, it was such a rush to see a game propel to the size it did, yet in the end, there is every chance that Forza Horizon 4 might end up being the best game of the year, it will be a title well deserved. In all my opposition to what Microsoft calls ‘good business‘ and their view of gamers, this one they got right, well done Microsoft!

If gaming is perception and presentation, just to call the attention, we need to stop and take another look at Bethesda. Even as the media titles have been ‘protective’ like ‘Bethesda Accidentally Leaked Personal Data of ‘Fallout 76’ Customers Looking for Help‘, as well as ‘Bethesda’s attempt to fix a Fallout 76 blunder leaks angry shoppers’ PID‘, we need to be mindful, accidental or not. Personal data is out there, possible due to an overreaction by Bethesda. Many consider Fallout 76 to be a failure; I am slightly less pessimistic calling it ‘work in progress’. That is the nature of the beast, when you tackle the online gaming, things go pear shaped, not merely because of the dangers of online resources, the mere consideration that 4 eager gamers can ask more of a system than 23,665 programmers can correct for, it is a mere truth of the online stage. And it was my personal feeling that after Tamriel in an online stage, Bethesda would have learned enough to get it much better from day one, they did not!

So it is unlikely that Bethesda is going home with any prices and awards this year (however, there is still Legends, and optionally blades).

Why look at this?

Games are not merely games, when a person buys a game; he or she pays for both an experience, as well as a stage of engagement. It is hard (read: impossible) to merely see AC Odyssey, without going back all the way to Masyaf and the very first Assassins Creed (if you played it as early as then), this is why AC2 and AC brotherhood are still seen as the path of perfection that AC Unity devastated. I got this Ubisoft punishment device (see image), just so I could explain it to the skull of Yves Guillemot as graphically as possible (nyuk, nyuk, nyuk).

We have had plenty of reasons to get mad at Ubisoft for a whole range of reasons and now we see a growing group of people angered with Bethesda. I say one optional flop does not make a raging crowd, yet the views, visions and YouTube’s out there say different. As for perception, this game (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWwyhymcDxI) was one of the first 5 games I ever bought (3rd or 4th), I still think fondly of this game, even after 34 years. I got the Broderbund title as it got the IBM joystick award (in those days there was no proper game reviewing). It was an instant success. When you get emerged in a game, your world changes, and you tend to focus on fun and challenge. This is not unique for me; this is for anyone who loves games. Now we can hardly perceive this, yet I still remember the challenge that level 5 was initially. For many, their first console, the first game they truly got involved in, that title they will carry in their hearts for the longest of times, they will judge other games by that game. For many it will be on all systems, others will judge it per system (which is fairer anyway). So the new gamers will hold a light to any new game, comparing it to FHIV, AC Odyssey, Super Mario Odyssey, and Red Dead Redemption 2. That is the nature of the beast and when we find the developer lacking, they will get slapped around by these gamers (poor poor Yves Guillemot). Yet when a developer gets it right, when they deliver beyond the over marketed title (like AC Origin) they also get the benefit of powerful acknowledgement (as they are entitled to that too). For me (in the Mario universe) it started with Super Mario 64, and until we got Super Mario Sunshine, it had the crown, even later as we saw Wii and WiiU, Super Mario Sunshine still ruled and now we see the optional crown going to Super Mario Odyssey (I only played the demo so far).

So when we see this, when we realise that best game of the year is also smitten with what they made before, we see a difference, another measurement. So in that light, I do hope that the rumours of Samus Aran and her trilogy for Nintendo Switch will be true. So far in 14 years no one ever surpassed the fun and challenge value that Metroid Prime delivered and I loved Metroid Prime 2: Echoes to that same degree. So to get that on Switch will up the ante for any game developer. The fun, the challenge and getting to the conclusion of the challenge is everything to the gamer, Nintendo has forever understood that part of gaming to a much better degree than any other developer (Bethesda had a good grasp of comprehending people on the past).

So when we see that the reality is that we will optionally be able to replay those titles via the Nintendo Switch Virtual Console, we see that Nintendo has a long term future as well, as these titles can capture the older hearts, as well as new players giving them a lot more bang for the buck. Nintendo rules these waves, we see this with the latest addition Super Smash Bros (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWo9wfsnj7M). It is Super Smash Bros that gives the main dish as a desert. When we realise that the impression of fun is not merely looking good, it is about getting it right, it is in this view that looking perfect will always lose against getting it right.

It is that distinction is also important when you look towards the best game of 2018, even as a PlayStation fan (a bias that is forever important), we see that Spiderman PS4 got it right, Forza Horizon 4 merely got it right better. So Microsoft on a game type that I am not really a fan of; justly wins with a title by getting it right the best. Even as God of War was perfect, exceeded everything they made before, we might compare it to why Super Smash Bros got 94%, yet in the end, the game that blew us away more will take the cake and candles in all of this. FHIV might never be in my collection as the One versus One X is just to distinct here (for now), yet the fact that whenever I see FHIV, I get the desire to race, as a non-racer, that impression is extremely distinct; it is why my vote went that way. To capture the heart of a player that has another game style is an achievement that we all seem to forget. Just like Super Smash Bros has the ability to get all kinds of people to pick up the game and play against as many people as possible, we see the impact of excellence in gaming through fun and the joy of getting there. Nintendo mastered that ability a long time ago and whenever we see any other game getting there, we rejoice.

Far Cry Primal got close and then dropped the ball by being ‘predetermined’. Far Cry 5 never got there by offering everything and becoming nothing at all, the God of War got there through the people who knew the originals, giving us a new track, another path in almost perfect graphics and with a rating of 94% they did excel, set that against the 92% of Forza Horizon 4 and in my state of mind, there would be no contest, game over for Microsoft Studios, yet that was not the case, challenge and fun, they merely got it slightly better. Even as we see that they got Best Racing Game and Xbox Game of the Year (which was not really that much of a challenge this time around), they are still on track to get Ultimate Game of the Year, Best Sports/Racing Game and Best Audio Design, it is my personal opinion that they would optionally lose the third one and anyone who has heard the soundtrack of God of War is likely to agree with me. As I see it, Forza Horizon 4 gets to be the Ultimate Game of the Year; at least that is how I personally would vote.

The annual award is a battle of giants, some excelled for a long time, some excelled in every way and some merely competed to some extent. What is important in not merely who wins, and who gets nominated, we see that the winners will impact what we see in upcoming 2020 games and that is important to realise.

As we will anticipate on the coming of the Trilogy on Switch, some might wonder why. It is not merely the FPS part, it is open (to some extent), it is a challenge and it is an adventure, even in 2002 when it was released, even with the more ‘advanced’ graphics that the Xbox and the PlayStation 2 had, they could not touch Metroid Prime and its 97% rating. That small disc, holding a mere part of a DVD blew away all competition and with Metroid Prime 2: Echoes at 92% it did so again, and those who loved gaming want to get that feeling again. That is the impact that fun coated in challenge, or is that challenge coated in fun? Whichever way it is presented it creates gamers and it creates desire within a gamer. The ultimate game of the year can impact that future of where we will look next, what we will try next, even if it is not our cup of tea. When it hits the mark we will all order a pot of it, not merely a cup. That is one part that the game makers understand, and they are eager to get into the sweet spot of gamers there.

Should you think that gamers are selfish, think again! Digital trends reported less than 2 weeks ago: “Grandma Shirley — had left expressing her doubts at living to see The Elder Scrolls VI, a petition was created on Change.org to have her immortalized in the game“, gamers care to this extent, especially when they share a connection to a game, so I think that Bethesda needs to be truly stupid to not consider this, and to be honest Bethesda has been overly considerate in the past, not for personal gain or marketing, their actions regarding Erik West (Eric the Slayer), and there are more examples. Bethesda has forever been trying and aiming to get it right and to a larger extent, they have, so I was puzzled on how they got Fallout 76 so wrong. I merely cover it with ‘a work in progress‘, which in light of the approach is probably as correct as it gets (for now).

Gaming is for me not some state, or an escape. It is a world you become a part of, not replacing reality, but having it on the side. Making it part of the 24 hours a day you have, not replacing the 24 hours you should live in. Some choose sports, some choose a passion (or passion itself) and some hike, trail and be out in the open. Gamers do the gaming thing and when developers get that mindset right, the games will propel in excellence, it is a lesson Nintendo learned early on and they are still able to surprise us. In this Bethesda and Nintendo are optionally more alike. They both got it wrong (WiiU/Fallout76), yet as Nintendo Switch is now the golden mark of excellence, we might get the same from Bethesda (with whichever titles comes next) and that too is gaming, when the challenge is met and we get that satisfying feeling of a new challenge and we look forward to every second that comes next. That ‘Oh Yeah!‘ moment (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JB8BLMMVFLg) when you see that they are got it right. Gaming has had plenty of these, which is why developers are getting additional chances. Witcher 3, Mass Effect 2, Diablo 3, Skyrim, Metroid Prime, GTA5, the Last of Us, Golden Eye, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. The list goes on and will remain growing after tomorrow, because any developer that flops now (Far Cry) will optionally be able to hit it out of the park at a later stage (Far Cry 3) and that is gaming too, to be there and live through the successes, even after a massive failure (AC Unity anyone?)

Gamers can afford to wait as there are plenty of players offering the next golden egg, or is that the next golden eye? And with results like God of War, Forza Horizon 4, Ni no Kuni 2, and Subnautica I personally believe that the future of gaming is in good hands. No matter who gets to be called the ultimate game of 2018. There has been 45 years between Pong (1972) and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017), it was never about who had the best graphics (Minecraft 2011 is evidence of that), any category can win, any style can win (Rock Band 3 2010) and it opens us optionally to playful directions we might never have considered on day one of that game (Limbo 2010).

Personally I love the yearly gaming awards for reasons mentioned earlier, but for the most, for me it is about to consider a game that stood out in one way and merely missed out on that game initially having something to look forward to, which in my clearest case was Far Cry 3, the previous versions were not up to standard and therefor I never considered it, which gave me in the end more joy than I bargained for, exceeding expectations can end up being that rewarding.

It will be Monday morning in 60 hours, so try to take a moment and play a game this weekend, even if it is for merely an hour and it is something as simple (and highly addictive) as Minecraft.

 

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The heart processes

There is an awful lot of technology news today or perhaps better stated a lot happened in the last week that we are made privy to. It is not exactly the same, and it is not that we are downplaying 70,000 cadavers are we? If you question that part, talk to The Independent (UK Newspaper) and ask a long-time foreign correspondent Patrick Cockburn, on how the media screwed the readers over for the longest of times. The quote that matters here is: “For almost two years, the corporate media have cited a UN figure of 10,000 Yemenis who have been killed in the US-and UK-backed Saudi war. Recently, Cockburn pointed out that this figure grossly downplays the real, catastrophic death toll which is likely in the range 70,000-80,000“, it is merely another piece of evidence that shows just how unreliable corporate media has become.

Yet this is about technology (is it?). We start of in the precious life of gamers where we are treated to: “Blizzard’s divisive new Diablo title tops the week in games” (source: Wired), and to give you the dimensionality here. The last Diablo game was launched on May 15th, 2012 a game I have since launch day and I still play it today on my PS4. This game has kept me entertained surprised and challenged for that long and whenever they release a new challenge season where the rewards can really stack up in ultra-rare weapons and outfits, the stage restarts and we start a new character just to get there. Blizzard has been able to keep the attention of its gamers for that long. Do when I was made aware of ‘upcoming Blizzard Entertainment mobile title Diablo: Immortal at the BlizzCon‘, I was a little sad. Not in a bad way, merely in a way that I might still be playing Diablo 3 whilst also playing Diablo 4. You see, to have a hard-core dream team (a hard-core person is a person that gets one life, if you die at any point, there is no option to load it again, that person is gone forever) with paragon 150 on every class takes some doing and the long hours in all of them will make me a little sad. Yet this is not Diablo 4, this is Diablo on a smartphone, which is presently less of an issue and more of a ‘this is not me‘ part. I never have the cool new phone. I have a Huawei P7 and even as I have to replace it soon (dodgy battery) I will only do so when I have no options left. I am happy that I can get a really nice new phone for a sharp price, but it will not be the strongest the fastest or the most upgraded one, so gaming is usually not going to happen on a smartphone, which is no great loss to me, but that also means no Diablo: Immortal for me. And in the second, I want my diablo on a 55″ TV, not on some 5.5″ mobile screen. Staring at such a screen will make you lose your eyesight faster than a life time of non-stop masturbating, so I do not intend to go there. Microsoft does not escape the gravity here and is now expected to release Crackdown 3 in February 2019, which, after its initial announcement in 2014 some delay, almost the longest in gaming history, so again Microsoft sets a new record, but not a good one. This all follows the news in Mobile phones where the latest of Huawei is heralded as an absolute superstar by more than one reviewer, the most important part here for me is the battery that scores 10 out of 10, a 100% score, which is quite the reason. This high end horse is still cheaper than the Samsung, the Apple by roughly 15%-20%, yet at the same price as the Google Pixel 3. That whilst its baby brother the Huawei Nova 3i 128GB, which came out almost 3 months ago is 50% cheaper and is only minimally less powerful, as well as overkill for anyone that has mere regular use for a mobile phone (people like me) and it comes with 2 years manufacturers warranty, who would not go for that awesome deal (if you can afford it that is)?

Then we see several players bringing us a foldable phone, but one where the screen actually folds. There will be Samsung; there is also Chinese company with FlexPai. All new tastes of an old concept now pushed into another dimension, the screen. It seems that Chinese (and South-Korean) technology is taking leaps where others are merely moving inches. Even as Google is only in its third iteration of phones all three made rapid leaps forward. The roles have been reversed, where Taiwan and Chinese clones were cheap knock offs from the PC’s that IBM heralded (the one with the $2500 10MB hard drive), we are now in a revered stage where the west is trying to keep up with the east and their idea of novelty and innovation, all in a stage that is increasingly affordable by many, the first hurdle we all need to overcome and the Telecom corporations are only now starting to figure out the shallow marshes they put themselves on. Their game of exclusivity is about to go out of the window, older players like TPG who started really bad are now on top and they are in an auction fight with Telstra (who claimed to be so high and mighty) for the 5G spectrum, three years ago that notion would have been a laughing matter in more than one way. The field is changing and some players are out of their depth, especially as their depth perception was merely a virtual one and laced through ego driven presentations.

Yet when we look at Telstra we suddenly see news that is no longer available, it seems that Geelong news (https://www.bay939.com.au/) is no longer having the article that was supposed to be (at https://www.bay939.com.au/news/local-news/99401-nation-wide-telstra-issue-potentially-swept-under-rug) so when they said ‘under the rug‘ they were not kidding. Was this fake news, or was this the Telstra legal department in a ‘seize and desist’ action? I cannot tell from one one-sided part of information. ABC News (at https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-11-04/telstra-outage-leaves-hundreds-of-offenders-unmonitored/10463642) gives us: “Hundreds of offenders have been left unmonitored for more than 24 hours in South Australia following an electronic failure in monitoring devices blamed on a nationwide Telstra outage“, now this would not be a biggie, yet the question becomes, what kind of back-up was there? And even so, in most cases the criminals would not have been trying to edge their options if they were unaware at the time. When we see: “The company also confirmed the cause of the outage, describing it as a “complex issue” which technicians had worked through on Friday night. “The issue was caused by a fault in a vendor’s network and we had expert technicians onsite to assist them with restoration,” the spokesperson said“, we should realise that something like this could always happen, the fact that there was no backup and that the outage took 24 hours to rectify remains an issue. We see a little more with the quote “The outage has been blamed on faulty vendor equipment that had since been replaced. Telstra did not say what the equipment was, or name the vendor in question” (source: CRN), which now also gives us another part. You see, The government took Huawei out of the equation and will not give us a reason or evidence, and here we see clear faults and a downed system, whilst giving us ‘Telstra did not say what the equipment was, or name the vendor in question‘. I do not think that Telstra is allowed to have it both ways, are they? On the other hand, Michelle Bullock can get the balls for all I care. When we see her giving: “These sorts of outages disrupt commerce and erode trust of consumers in payment systems”, whilst I have had one outage in the last 8-10 years. ONE!, not once every now and then, merely one, at that point she needs to take a long hard look at herself and contemplate what ‘customer trust erosion‘ really is, because I proclaim her to be clueless in that regard. Whilst she is puckering up to Fintech people, and she needs addition apart from ‘outages disrupt commerce‘, she needs to consider what investments have been made by some players in the last 10 years and how many are merely fleecing and roaching of a well-built system hoping it will last a lot longer.

So when I see: ““Regulators are therefore starting to focus on the operational risks associated with retail payment systems and whether the operators and the participants are meeting appropriately high standards of resilience.” Bullock’s comments appear prescient as Telstra and financial institutions tried to hose down consumer and merchant anger“, yet when I also learn that the element not shown here is “ANZ confirmed that the outage had hit its merchants whose terminals are connected to Telstra’s 3G network“, so whilst there is now a direction that this is about a failed 3G Network moment, it is my personal view that Michelle Bullock needs to sit in some corner and shut the fuck up! The question is now whether the criminal monitoring part is also set on 3G technologies, because there is a much larger issue at that point. Not only is 4G consistently faster which gives us the ‘participants are meeting appropriately high standards of resilience‘, merely because of the consideration that ‘Communication in 3G networks may experience packet losses due to transmission errors on the wireless link(s) which may severely impact the quality‘, a paper from the Helsinki University of Technology made in 2008, so a system with optional issues that has been known for 10 years. That is why I asked for the muzzling of Michelle Bullock. This has nothing to do with any resilient of optionally very reliable system. This is about something on one flaw that we have noticed, whilst we see the optional foundation of ‘prescient’ as we revisit ‘Bullock’s comments appear prescient as Telstra and financial institutions tried to hose down consumer and merchant anger‘, prescient meaning ‘showing knowledge of events before they take place‘, which in her case means that she was shouting in some meaningless direction instead of asking the hard questions of Telstra. She becomes merely another stooge in the machine to aid Telstra in any direction required. This now links it back to Huawei (5G barred), the iterative actions of technology whilst we are being surpassed on every technological side. The full article (at https://www.crn.com.au/news/telstra-fault-takes-down-eftpos-and-atms-515080) gives a few more question, yet I will get to them in another article when I give you all a few more technological jabs against certain Telco players as they presented their ego and not their actual capability.

When we add the triple zero (000) call failures, the setting where we now see that “Telstra failed to deliver 1,433 calls to the emergency service operator on May 4 due to a network outage, breaching s22 of the Telecommunications (Emergency Call Service) Determination 2009 and the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999“. It gets to be worse when you consider one source giving us: “deputy commissioner of State Emergency Operations Controller Mark Walton speak to media in Sydney on Friday. Mr Walton says an issue with triple-zero calls is not resolved, and Mr Gately admits Telstra did not notify emergency services of the issue. “We identified, through our normal processes, that things were not operating as normal,” Mr Gately says“, Yet Telstra allegedly seems to have notified Michelle Bullock to cool tempers in another stage. Double standards in a few ways and whilst we do not know the vendor of the supplied ‘faulty vendor equipment‘ (which weirdly was reported by EVERY news outlet, not one speculated on the owner) and until the hearing we might not know, in the end we might never be notified on whose faulty equipment it was, which in light of the barred Huawei equipment is a much larger issue and it should anger us all.

Technology is failing people, not because of the technology, but because of the corporations that used technology as the bottom line and now we learn that they seemingly never learned the foundation of the hard-core needs linked to all this. The Age gave us last week: “Telstra cannot give proper service, even with those extra 8000 staff. I have been trying to get Wi-Fi on since July. Promises were made, contracts were agreed to, then broken, over and over again“, it seems that an issue that has been around for 20 weeks, an issue that should take a maximum of three visits any of them less than an hour could have resolved it. There is a 72% chance that the first visit would have fixed it, yet the latter one is merely a guess. Even as we also see ‘Telstra vans – declaring “We are here to help” – are whizzing around my suburb‘ a seemingly simple issue that has been around for 20 weeks, I believe that the problem for Australians is a lot larger than they even realise. The issue is not the technology, it is the fear that a place like TPG, an organisation that would be regarded as a banana republic at best, could with the Huawei solution surpass Telstra, could even replace Telstra and that scares a lot of politicians, it scares them beyond believe and that is optionally the truth that we are not told, so as Telstra sheds jobs, sheds proper emergency services (whilst blaming Zeus and his lightning), we are closing in on the most uncomfortable truth. We are not allowed to leap technologically ahead as some corporations become utterly redundant in our lives and let’s face it that board of directors would not survive the label ‘redundant’ would they?

So how did games fit into this?

It is the first of several steps where people are better managed and anticipated when they have a much better mobile. You see, all the new devices, any mobile smartphone that was released after 2017 is no longer a mobile phone. You think it is, but it is not. These devices are now clearly evolved, they have become your personal data server and as you move forward in this mobile age your perception will change, it will be catered to every individual, it will cater to your needs and filter out what you do not need, or perhaps more precise, it will filter out what the system regards you do not need, which is not the same. The choice that was never offered to you is just as deceptive as the wrong choice given to you, do you not agree? And as 5G allows corporations to maximise their impact on your finances, these corporations require you to be ready from the get go. Corporations are finally accepting that gaming is a part of everyone’s life and pushing the latest technology onto these people has a large benefit that falls in their scope, yet is presently not always considered by the user, 5G will push those boundaries by a lot within 16 months of availability.

Telstra is desperate to remain part of that equation because those who are not no longer have a future and TPG surpassing Telstra was the one nightmare they cannot handle (Huawei would have enabled that) and there are more parts to that, you will learn those in 2019.

Oh and when you realise that some commonwealth nations end up being technologically second to nations with Huawei solutions feel free to demand the resignation of your local politician because of that. Yet, the heart processes and so does yours. The question is not merely that we control our hearts and that it does not overwhelm the brain with emotion, it requires us to take an additional cold look at things, and when we do that, how do any of the Telco troubles make sense? It does when the heart becomes an accountant, at that point it all makes perfect sense, but that was not our problem was it? We were expected to get the best deal, whilst the telecom players wanted the ultimate perfected profit wave, now that it bites back they want to change the deck of cards and make the consumer pay for it all, including letting them pay for the bad decisions they made in the past, do you feel obliged to pay for their screw ups?

 

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EA Games is waking up

We agree that EA Games has had a rough time, there is the loot box gambling part, a part I am on the side of EA games and I do not agree with the findings on a few levels. Yet there is a side where EA Games needs to wake up fast. first the good parts, like Forbes in September (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/games/2018/09/13/nhl-19-review-the-good-the-bad-and-the-bottom-line). From my point of view NHL19 is the best NHL game they ever launched. They started really good at the launch of the PS2, then there was a really good version of the game in 20903 on the GameCube and after that it started to sizzle (as I see it). They were more asleep than awake and the NHL franchise fell behind and fell behind a fair bit. EA Games had a few more good moments. Madden NFL 2002 On the Xbox was surreal and amazing, but that too fell down a bit, most state to me that NFL19 is awesome on many levels and I might find it out for myself in the Christmas sales dumps (somewhere out there). I was never a soccer fan, so FIFA is not in the cards, but the reviews are good and I accept that, but this is not about that, it is about the flaws in NHL19 and there are a few. Most of them are around the cards that you have accumulated, there is an option missing and a few details going into space, all could have been avoided. I personally believe that all 19 games have the same flaws and that is such a shame.

Then there is the use of cards, in my case I ended with a free HUT silver card and I have absolutely no clue what it does. So EA Games is not informing the users on some of the cards, which basically amounts to deceptive conduct. In a stage where EA games cannot afford to get markers of deceptive conduct against them is not a good thing. I love it that you get a free pack of 4 every 8 hours, which is awesome. Yet that does not rack up a lot in all the things I found. The option of a decent CCG album would have been great, with the cards on the right (or left) and the other side a superimposed image of that card where you could read all the details, why is it not there (not the version that is there now and it is a little laughable)? The filtering in auctions and looking at your cards is awesome, yet the lack of certain elements would have made it better. The customisable main screen of NHL 19 is awesome, and the practice part is fantastic (the final deke is a nightmare), yet overall this addition will entice more new players to NHL, especially those who have a puck instead of a heart (like me), it’s fun to have one but it freaks out the cardiologist to no amount, which is additional fun to boot. Why not expand on Franchise mode? Perhaps I did something wrong, I found the beginning awesome as I got my favourite team (Caps), arena, logo and jerseys unlocked. Why not unlock more with each game you win, other caps jerseys? I think we can accept that these will be non-tradeable cards, most gamers will not care, consider all the teams, American, Canadian, Scandinavian and other team leagues in there, the amount of jerseys and logo’s to unlock, would it have been such a shame to add them as unlockable parts? Now, I get it that this does not apply to the players, yet you still have the option to get those in the free packs (up to three players a day). It adds to the replay power of the game, adding bang to the buck and value to the game. Overall NHL is a screaming success, yet the parts that I found have a 5-10 point negative impact, whilst that should not have been the case in the first place and I reckon that I would find the same failings in both NFL19 and FIFA19, so a failing thrice over, and then there are the auctions. It is great that the game gives a free pack every 8 hours and there is always a coin card with 100 coins or more. Having won more than one 1000 coin cards made me very happy, as it allowed me to get 20 arena’s and half a dozen jerseys in a mere three weeks, so this is all good. What is less it that there seems to be an auction bug. I have been the front runner more than once and feeling happy having won a few auctions as the auction ended with me having the highest bet, only to go to the menu finding my coins returned and no card, which feels like a total sham. I actually lost my money once, but not through the auction, that daily coin card just vanished. It was a mere 200 coins, so no biggie, but it feels a little sour for a few seconds.

The graphics are awesome on the PS4, the controls are for the most outstanding and actually feel intuitive (except for some dekes) and practice mode adds to the flavour of preparation, which makes you more and more in the winning state of mind. I feel that having to select the language every time I start the game is weird, but what the hell, so first the language, then selecting the game at the main screen, a part that could have been done better I guess. Forbes has a few additional parts, all worth consideration, and the quote “The balance between offense and defense is good. Poke checks aren’t out of control as they were in a previous version, but still, an effective way to stop an offensive player’s progress. I think this year’s game forces you to use all of your defensive tools more than others. The more tools you can command, the better you’ll be at the game, and that’s the way it should be“, is one I wholeheartedly agree with. In addition there should be mention that the soundtrack adds to the game in a way that must be noticed. or me the fun was that I didn’t know any of the songs, which is always nice, especially when you feel more in the mood to play hockey because of it. In the end, the scores varying from 80%-89% is decent, yet I personally believe that adding these few parts to the interface and adding the reward unlocks might have made this a 85%-94% game. When that realisation sets in, consider what FIFA and NFL are optionally missing out on, especially when you realise that some people will not consider a launch day game for any title scoring less than 90%, that racks up to a serious amount of cash.

As stated, NHL 19 is the best NHL game I have seen in many years and that is still a great victory to behold, especially to play it again just as my team won the Stanley cup for real, which after supporting them for almost 27 years is a real good feeling. Now, I just need to get them there in the Pro Career (which might be a taller order for me), yet I remain an eternal optimist.

You see, if Colonel general Igor Valentinovich Korobov can drop the ball in Salisbury to the extent that the ball has been dropped, I definitely could be a successful NHL goalie, preferably the Western division so that I do not have to go up against my own favourite team, do you think that the San Jose Sharks could use another goalie?

Oh, and I had initially planned on writing about the media BS that we are getting from AstraZeneca and Brexit, which especially in light of certain patent pains are a hoot, but I am still gathering materials, so that will take a few days.

 

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